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WWII aircrew research advice request

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WWII aircrew research advice request

Old 22nd Sep 2008, 13:21
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WWII aircrew research advice request

My great-uncle was bomber crew in WWII. I'm sure I heard mention that he was a Nav, but I don't know this to be fact. He was lost on ops during the war, but other than that I know nothing else. I would like to know more, but there are no family members left to ask.

How do I go about finding out where he was stationed, on what squadron, what a/c, and details like that? I imagine that records must exist somewhere, but where?

How much information will I need before a result could be obtained?

Many thanks in advance.

I was unsure whether to post in AH&N or here, but as he was mil aircrew I thought here would be most appropriate.

Any advice would be gratefully received.

Cheers,


Nacluv
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 13:26
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I know the National Archieves hold info on all the records of the RAF, good place to start. Might have an alpebetical search.

Once that is found the Hendon archieve might help, then the Sqn history.
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 13:39
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Bomber Command lost 55,000 aircrew during the war, and then bomber aircrew fought and died with Coastal Command, Air Forces Middle East, the Far East Air Force, etc.

You need your great uncle's full name (Uncle Frank may have been Sidney Francis Jones) and ideally his service number. Those would probably be engraved on his medals, and would be in any documentation that your Great Aunt might have had.

With his name and number, his service record is easy, and from that his stations and squadrons. With those you can look at the operational record books at Kew.

Without that, and without knowing where he was stationed, or what type of aircraft he flew, it's hard to know where to start.
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 13:41
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I found information on my father (RAF/WW2) at the Public Records Office in Kew.

But I did have the Squadron number and obviously, his full name. At some stage in your search, Kew will be handy as they have all the squadron records.

Best of luck!
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 14:20
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As he was lost on Ops, perhaps the Commonwealth War Graves Commission :: CWGC :: would have his details......
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 15:19
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Thanks to all thus far for your suggestions.

The CWGC site was very useful - thanks cynicalint. I thought I knew his name - but he had a 'hidden' first name (thanks Jackonicko!), but as his surname was not very common a surname-only search pulled out few enough results to pick him out. I have therefore found this real full name, service number, squadron, date of death, final place of rest (Belgium unfortunately - in a not-round-the-corner sense), and so on. Already much more than I could have hoped for.

Now I have got something to go on.

Many thanks again.


Cheers,

Nacluv
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 15:29
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Nacluv - I regularly go to Belgium, and have a number of friends there. Let me now the lat/long by PM and I'll get a recce done for you.
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 15:39
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Have you tried LOST BOMBERS for further info?
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 16:04
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Are those records suitable for tracing aircrew who made it through ?

Both of my Grandfathers were aircrew & survived, & I'd love to find out more about their service if possible ( I know snippets, both BC, one a regular from '33 )
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 16:23
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Wow. The power of the internet - and PPRuNe.

I have learned more about my great uncle in 2 hours than I have in 42 years.

Forget - many thanks. I had enough info from the CWGC site to have a look through the Lost Bombers site as you suggested.

I now know what Op he was on, where from, what happened to him and the rest of the crew (night fighter - including the name of the perp!), the airframe he was in. He was one of three KIA; the other three lived to tell the tale. I note from a sentimental p.o.v. that the three fallen comrades are buried alongside each other in the cemetary.

To say I am overwhelmed is a mastery of understatement.

Thank you all. The beers are definitely on me next round.

Very best regards,


Nacluv

Last edited by nacluv; 22nd Sep 2008 at 16:35.
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 19:47
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Service Records

Tyres / Nacluv

If you are the NOK and can supply your relatives name, you will be able to obtain a copy of his service record from the RAF Disclosures Office at RAF Cranwell, Lincs. The bad news is they will charge a fee, last I heard about 30.

If you are not the NOK (or the individual is still alive) you will need the NOK / Serviceman's written authority to obtain a copy of the Service record.

Nacluv

The Air Historic Branch (RAF Northolt) will be able to give you further details on the mission in which your Uncle was lost.

TT
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Old 23rd Sep 2008, 00:15
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Thanks Very much for clarifying TT.

As one of my Grandfathers ( & grandmother's ) effectively brought me up, this not knowing of an important part of their past (one that brought them together ) continues to bother !
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Old 24th Sep 2008, 02:33
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Thank you Cynicalint !

Have wondered for years about an uncle killed in the FAA, without knowing too much about him other than that my first name and middle initial were called after him.
My parents divorced when I was 5, so never had more than 2 or 3 meetings with my father afterwards, who was a Nav/Obs on Beaufighters and Mossies with 235 Squadron out of Portreath and Banff.
Thanks to your website link suggestion, and another from there, I now know that my uncle (his brother) was killed in a Fulmar of 809 Squadron off HMS Victorious way up north in July '41.

Thanks again !
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Old 27th Oct 2008, 09:38
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The power of Prune

A business contact of mine went to the cemetery and took this:

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Old 4th Sep 2009, 21:39
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The time has finally come. 2 weeks to go before I, at long last, get to visit the cemetery and the area in general for myself. A family trip to Belgium for a long weekend.

A_A - I can't actually imagine how I will feel when that view is right there in front of me. Thank you indeed for all your, and your colleague's, efforts.

I have a couple of contacts from other fora who have been able to shed some additional light on the events of 22/3 June 1943.

Also, time I think to put a face to the name - my great uncle, James Theo Hindley:



It will be good to finally 'meet' you...
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Old 4th Sep 2009, 22:12
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Nacluv

I think you have these details already but...

Wellington Mk X HF457 Took off from East Moor at 2338 on an Op to Mulheim. Shot down by a night fighter (Oblt Hans Autenreith II./NJG1) and crashed at Houthalem (Limburg) 12 km NNE of Hasselt, Belgium. Those who died were buried on 25 June at St-Truiden, since when their bodies have been removed to Heverlee War Cemetery. Sgt Hindley's father, the Revd James Hindley, had a living in Derbyshire at Buxton.

Crew:

WO2 WA Sneath RCAF Killed
Fg Off RG Clarke RCAF PoW
Fg Off AB Drummond-Hay RCAF PoW
Sgt JT Hindley Killed
Sgt JO Hills RCAF Killed

RAF Bomber Command Losses 1943 WR Chorley



557 aircraft - 242 Lancasters, 155 Halifaxs, 93 Stirlings, 55 Wellingtons, 12 Mosquitoes. 35 aircraft - 12 Halifaxs 11 Stirlings, 8 Lancasters, 4 Wellingtons - lost. 6.3% of the force.

The pathfinders had to mark this target through a thin layer of stratus cloud but Mulheim's records contain references to the accuracy of the markers over this medium sized town and to the ferocity of the ensuing bombing. the now familiar are of fire and temporary breakdown of the fire and rescue services followed. In later stages of the raid, the Pathfinder markers and the bombing moved slightly into the northern part of the town: this had the effect of cutting all road and telephone comms with the neighbouring town of Oberhaussen with which Mulheim was linked for air raid purposes. Not even cyclists or motor cyclists were able to get out of Mulheim, only messengers on foot could get through. The centre and north of Mulheim and the eastern part of Oberhaussen were severely damaged, 578 people were killed and 1,174 were injured in the 2 towns. 1,135 houses were destroyed and 12,637 damaged. Other buildings hit were 41 public buildings, 27 schools, 17 churches and 6 hospitals. The only reference to industry is a general note "a large proportion of industries were severely affected". The post war British Bombing Survey Unit estimated that this single raid destroyed 64% of the town of Mulheim.


Bomber Command War Diaries, Middlebrook and Everitt
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Old 5th Sep 2009, 09:07
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Thanks November4.

I knew about the details of his loss, but I didn't know about the effect(iveness) of the raid itself. It seems as if he was a part of a very successful raid, in Allied terms at least. He was lost on the return leg as I understand it, so at least he got to do his bit.

I have to say that the account of the raid from Mulheim's perspective is rather sobering reading too. There are no winners in war.
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Old 5th Sep 2009, 15:48
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This is for anyone who is attempting to research a relative from WW2 or earlier. I would advise you at some stage to use the services of a professional researcher. The internet will take you so far, but it is simply not true that individual records are available online. Certainly the National Archive is open to all, but to be honest it is a daunting prospect for the novice. There are many researchers who will undertake to do this work for surprisingly modest fees - certainly if you live anywhere out of the South East travel and accommodation costs would be in excess of any likely research charge. I have had many WW2 aircrew researched for me over the years and have obtained copies of F540 (squadron operational records with details of full crew, bomb loads carried and a wealth of fascinating details). There are some frustrating culs de sac, but in general it is amazing what can be found.

If anyone cares to contact me by PM I will pass on the details of researchers who I would recommend. By the way, I don't do this work myself, so I am not touting for business!
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Old 5th Sep 2009, 16:46
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You can get certain service records from the Second War released to you if you can get a next of kin form signed and pay the appropriate fee.

You will need the written consent from the nearest living next of kin and then they will send you what they hold.

This is a good place to start: :: CWGC ::
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Old 5th Sep 2009, 17:13
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What an amazing find.

I'm going to be doing my own family tree research in the next couple of months, although my grandfathers and great uncles were all soldiers it's fantastic to hear about your success.
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